Traditional Marketing is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. With a flick of the DVR potential customers can skip television advertising. They hang up on telemarketers, no longer feeling sorry for the “poor person” on the other end of the line. They often ignore magazine advertising. They have become so adept at online surfing they can digest the information while ignoring, dismissing and simply not seeing banners and buttons which just makes the irrelevant. They’ve had to. A famous study by research firm Yankelovich found the average person is exposed to about 5,000 ads or offers per day. Buyers have tuned out marketing. In fact, as marketers attempt to regain their loss of influence on the consumer market, they become bolder with their online banners, which not only doesn’t attract, but can actually turn-off potential customers who quickly label it as spam. Company information presented by the company isn’t seen as trustworthy or valuable.
There has to be a better way.
I help businesses find ways to grow their income by expanding their product offering switch passive income strategies. Today we are going to talk about the use of content marketing to create valuable online products that serve as effective marketing strategies to reach today’s savvy customers.
What if customers looked forward to getting your marketing instead of getting rid of it without barely a glance? What if they spent quality time with your print, email, website or other marketing media? What if your marketing content built relationships with your online and face-to-face customers where they trust the integrity of your products and services?
Content marketing is a marketing technique that builds customer loyalty and profitable customer action by creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to a clearly defined and understood target audience. Content marketing is an ongoing process that is best integrated into an overall marketing strategy. It focuses on owning media, not renting it. Businesses own media when they make the decision to create and publish their own content to build brand awareness or reinforcement, create lead conversion and nurturing and customer conversion. Business rent media when they buy advertising space.
Amazingly enough, content marketing focuses on communicating with customers and prospects without selling. It doesn’t interrupt. It doesn’t pitch products or services. It makes buyer more intelligent. It gives customers quality information they can use to solve their problems. When businesses deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers they build relationships and are rewarded with business and loyalty.
And it works. According to Roper Public Affairs, 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles rather than an advertisement. Seventy percent say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company. Sixty percent say that company content helps them make better product decisions. Businesses that are successful in developing timely, relevant, non-promotional content reach potential buyers both directly and indirectly through word of mouth.
Targeted, relevant content, like remarkable products, induces conversations and incites sharing. It provides retention throughout the buying cycle. Thoughts leaders like Seth Godin have concluded that content marketing is “all the marketing that’s left.”
Content marketing includes such activities as:
- Social Media
- Article posting
- In-person events
- Case Studies
- White Papers
- Print Newsletters
- eBooks, etc.
- Published books
Content marketing isn’t new. It’s been around since Jell-O first published a cookbook using its products in the recipes.We see it today as companies such as Microsoft or John Deere send out non-advertising information to it’s customers.It’s being used by some of the largest organizations in the world as well as small businesses and one-person shops around the globe.
Regardless of your overall marketing strategy, quality content should be included in all facets of your marketing process:
- Social Media Marketing
- SEO (Search engines reward businesses that publish quality, consistent content)
- Public Relations (Successful PR strategies address issues readers care about and not their business)
- PPC only happens when there is great content behind it
- Inbound marketing (quality content drives inbound traffic and leads)
How content marketing should fit into your marketing plan depends on your business today and where you want to take it tomorrow. Here are some questions to consider when deciding how to proceed:
- What is the need? How big of a need is it? Is there a big enough audience to justify the time and effort?
- Who are our critical group of buyers? What do they really need and how would they want to receive it?
- What do you hope to accomplish with content marketing?
- What is your differentiating value?
- Why is this more important than other things we are spending time on?
- What does the customers’ buying cycle look like?
- What content would need to be created based on the engagement cycle?
- What is the customer context? What is the reality for our customers?
- Who else is doing this? If no one, why hasn’t it been done?
- What will our brand ultimately achieve?
- What do we already have that tells our story? What is good about what we have? What must change to be able to tell our story more effectively?
- What is the tone, velocity and structure that will best tell our story?
- How will you measure success?
Content marketing is most effective when it’s written for a specific reader. This reader could be a business personal (someone you make up who looks like your typical targeted customer), a prospect facing a particular challenge or an active lead that meets certain criteria. Without a clear audience in mind, the marketer can’t create a communication product that will educate, entertain or inspire the right consumer.
But wait…..once content is created, especially if it’s in the form of an eBook, book, article or white paper, it can also be sold on sites such as Amazon.com. At first glance, online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay seem to be a match made in heaven with mutual benefit for both parties. This could provide another source of income and quite frankly dramatically increase exposure to more buyers for the business’s products and services. The marketplace gains and expanded product range to offer it’s customers without having to increase inventory.
On closer investigation, the mutual benefits remain, but there may be some considerations you should make before taking the plunge. There are advantages and disadvantages to this, but again, it depends on what you want to accomplish. It may be a pot of gold for some retailers and a bust for others. There are a lot of variables to consider, including the type of products you sell, the intensity of competition in your category, your current margins, marketplace fees and restrictions, etc.
Upside of Selling to Amazon
Increased product exposure and potential sales due to the large scale of their online presence is the main draw of selling on marketplaces such as Amazon. Amazon alone draws nearly 85 million unique monthly visitors. That’s tough to ignore. Many businesses see a dramatic increase in sales when they join Amazon Marketplace.
Customer Acquisition is also a big draw. With excellent service and fulfillment, you get a chance at repeat business, especially if you are selling products in a category that encourages frequent, repeated purchases such as hobby supplies.
Marketplace infrastructures provide not only visibility but checkout and fulfillment support that creates a seamless experience for buyers.
Downside of Selling to Amazon
It depends on what you want your business to be. Utilizing Amazon Marketplace can bring in income, but for the most part that will reach a ceiling. Keep in mind that Amazon’s strategy is to provide selection, price and convenience for its customers. Other merchants fit into this strategy only so far as they help Amazon offer a wide selection of products. In essence you are seen by Amazon as an Affiliate – a source for new customers. When a new customer finds you on Amazon, you have created a customer for Amazon. Once that customer is obtained, Amazon’s model is to sell the full range of its products, not yours. There is no personal relationship with the customer.
Profitability in eCommerce depends on repeat purchases and in selling more than one product to customers. In Amazon, you lose your brand. The traffic isn’t coming to your site; it’s going to Amazon’s site. You have no opportunity to upsell the visitor.
Amazon has the customer relationship, not you. Amazon is a master at building and maintaining customer relationships to get its customers to come back and buy more of its products (not necessarily yours). The relationship with the customer belongs to Amazon, not you. The customer mindshare belongs to Amazon. In fact, if you use Fulfillment by Amazon where Amazon has the shipping, you know nothing about the customer at all. They own the data and the customer relationships.
The search engines within Amazon may make your books hard to find. In its search engines, Amazon caters to its own traffic first as well as uncommon books. Yours may appear so far down the line that no one sees it anyway. Sometimes only a Google search will bring your clients back to the right place on Amazon’s site.
The common use of automatic pricing and the fact that Amazon always displays books “lowest price first,” often means that even if you list a copy at the “best price,” within a few hours or days your price may be undercut. Consequently, you will need to reduce your price as well to stay in competition.
Amazon will compete with you. They count on merchants to provide low volume specialty items it doesn’t want to hold in stock, but which allows it to hold maximum selection. If your product line starts selling well, you’ve just told Amazon which item to stock next. Merchants help Amazon identify new niches and categories to enter which can be profitable.
Finally, Amazon isn’t cheap and doesn’t work for low-margin products. You’ll pay subscription fees plus per-transaction fees based on a share of your revenue. Then if Amazon decides to stock your product category, you will not be able to compete on either price or service.
Content marketing needs to be part of your marketing strategy in some way. Traditional marketing strategies are quickly becoming obsolete and establishing relationship and loyalty through quality content sharing is already proving to be the best approach to break through customer roadblocks. How significant a part and the best strategy to use depend on your product and services and your customers. What are they like? What information do they need? What is the best way to get them that information?
Once quality marketing products are made, such as books, eBooks, newsletters, videos, training materials, white papers, etc. the question is whether it might also be advantageous to see those products in the marketplace such as Amazon.com rather through your own website. Again, this depends on what you want to accomplish. Just remember, although Amazon can provide a means for significant income that you might never reach through your own marketing channels, it may not be the best strategy for your business. You are merely the supplier to Amazon. It isn’t building your business in a sustainable way.